Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers in Lake City FL
It is difficult to think about a family member being abused or neglected in a nursing home. Some older people have a hard time communicating what has happened, which means that a case of mistreatment or neglect can go on until it is too late. A number of guidelines have been set up by the State of Florida to safeguard the elderly by governing nursing homes and assisted living facilities. These legal requirements were created to protect people from serious injury and in some cases death. Farah & Farah’s experienced Lake City nursing home abuse lawyers can provide another layer of protection for abused seniors, making sure that they are compensated for instances of abuse, injury or neglect.
Contact one of our nursing home abuse lawyers at 386-957-5494 if your family member or loved one was a victim of abuse at a nursing home or elder care facility in Florida.
Signs of Physical Abuse, Mental Abuse & Neglect in Nursing Homes
Sometimes, mistreatment and neglect go unreported. Individuals and their families often worry about the repercussions of reporting abuse because they are unaware of the remedies that are available. It is important to look for and recognize abuse or neglect, and here are some common signs:
- Unexplained Injury or Trauma: If you observe any sign of injuries for which there is no incident documentation or reasonable explanation, abuse or neglect might be taking place.
- Unexplained Bruising on the Body: The location and severity of bruises can be another indication. Although it is true that older people bruise more easily, nursing center staff members are trained to be aware of this and handle seniors gently in order to prevent unnecessary bruising. If you notice bruising on the arms, elbows or legs, this may indicate that someone was handled in a rough manner, or it may indicate that restraints were used.
- Pressure Sores & Bedsores: Many nursing home residents are bedridden, and staff members have a responsibility to move or adjust residents’ positions every few hours to prevent friction from causing bedsores to form and/or become infected. Bedsores are a common sign that the person is being neglected.
- Unexplained or rapid weight loss: Obvious weight loss can be another sign of neglect or abuse, possibly caused by a poor diet or insufficient nutrition.
- Poor Hygiene: Good patient hygiene is another responsibility of assisted living facilities. If the family member’s clothing, bedding and general living conditions aren’t clean, this can be another sign of neglect.
- Blood and blood stains: Though rare, sexual abuse remains a threat for vulnerable elderly patients.
- Accidental Slips or Falls: All nursing homes and elder care centers are required to install and maintain appropriate safety precautions to protect residents, which includes walking ramps and handrails in all locations that might be considered dangerous and cause frail, elderly residents to slip, trip or fall.
- Chemical Restraints: More often than not, stories of mistreatment involve patients being dosed with abnormally high levels of chemicals and medications to restrain them, in some cases to restrain patients with aggressive tendencies. Higher than average levels of medication will often be used by nursing homes to control individuals with dementia. These situation can become dangerous and even deadly in some cases, because of the side effects of combining different medications in dosage levels that are not prescribed by a physician.
Nursing Home Facility Legislation in Florida
All staff members employed by senior care facilities are required to act by way of regulations imposed by the Florida Department of Health (FDH). Prior to employment at a nursing home, there are specific minimum hourly educational requirements for staf members and health care providers. Florida law requires that all facilities have at least one doctor, nurse, and dietary/nutrition specialist on site at all hours. A criminal background check and mandatory immunizations are required for every employee by Florida law. Residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities must have access to emergency care, mental health counseling, and medications. Residents also have the legal right to healthy, nutritious meals, social activities with other residents, access to exercise, and the right to a calm, peaceful living environment. When these patient rights are violated, employees are required to document and report the incidents to supervisors. Assisted living residents in Florida maintain the right to live in a clean, sanitary environment. All residents must have access to a kitchen or dining space, and easy access to bathroom facilities. Clothing and bedding must be changed on a regular basis, and the immediate living areas must be kept clean and free of dirt and debris. Heating and air conditioning must be provided and maintained in proper working condition, and nursing home residents must have access to hot and clean drinking water. Nursing homes are also required to have a pest control management program in place at all times.
Legal Consequences of Abuse & Neglect in Nursing Homes
Companies and employees who violate these guidelines can be subject to civil lawsuits and criminal charges. Nursing home infractions that are ignored and not reported by employees put the employees at risk for criminal charges or civil lawsuits. If an employee reports a violation and an investigation determines that no physical abuse or neglect occurred, the person who was accused will not be punished. If a senior care center violates state regulations, it may face criminal and civil penalties. Whenever mistreatment or neglect happens, if the facility does not put in place measures in place to prevent these from occurring again, it could be forced to shut down. You should never hesitate to file a report of abuse or neglect of a family member who lives in a nursing home in Florida. Case of neglect or mistreatment must be reported withing two years of the date of the occurrent as outlined by Florida Statute 492.296, but obviously you should report violations as soon as possible.
What To Do If You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect
Contact Farah & Farah’s nursing home abuse attorneys in Lake City if you have questions or need advice about filing a claim. One of our elder law attorneys will be glad to answer your questions. Our number is 386-957-5494.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced nursing home abuse lawyer from our Lake City office location.